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Ukraine to abolish conscription in 2009

According to media reports, the Ukrainian army will move to become a fully-professional service in 2009, President Viktor Yushchenko told a defence ministry meeting on Wednesday, 28 November 2007.

"The last conscription is in the fall of 2009. Then a professional army will start," he said, adding, "We must have a modern professional European army."

The Ukrainian defence ministry said the number of military personnel serving under professional contracts had risen by around 2,000 since 2007 to about 51,000.

Only in October did Yushchenko issue a compulsory military service decree. The order stipulates that Ukraine will conduct two conscription campaigns in 2008, in April-May and October-November.

Yushchenko's top aide Viktor Baloha said on 24 October 2007 the decree would help ensure the "continuity and reliability" of Ukraine's defense capabilities. "The head of state has fulfilled his constitutional duty. Conscription is a prerequisite for preserving defense capabilities of the Armed Forces as the country's main instrument to resist threats to its sovereignty and independence," he said.

Baloha said the decree would not impede the army's transition to a professional force. "Ukraine will definitely have effective and professional armed forces. However, the transition to a professional army requires professional approaches and careful preparation," he said and added that this process cannot be rushed."

Sources: RIA Novosti news agency, 28 November 2007, Press office of President Victor Yushchenko, 24 October 2007

Veröffentlicht in CO-Update, January 2008, No. 35